RED DEER, ALBERTA – A union representative drafted a letter to the Olymel pork plant manager at the Red Deer, Alberta, processing plant requesting the facility be shut down until a COVID-19 outbreak is under control.

UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse asked for a two-week shutdown to stop the spread of the virus in a Feb. 5 letter posted on Twitter. Hesse said 61 cases have been identified at the facility. 

Hesse also requested full compensation for every employee during the two-week period. Finally, he requested a joint meeting with union officials, an independent health expert and Occupational Health and Safety and Alberta Health Services to review the situation.

“We urge you to act on these three points with the greatest urgency,” Hesse wrote. “Every infection carries the risk of death or serious, long-lasting health consequences we are only beginning to understand. We cannot afford to wait.” 

Hesse went on to write that UFCW polled the membership and said that 80% wanted the plant shut down for 14 days to keep themselves and their family safe.

In a statement to rdnewsNOW, Richard Vigneault, corporate communications for Olymel, said the company is working with the Alberta Health Services and is taking precautions to keep employees safe.